What Makes Olive Oil 'Extra Virgin'?
What's the big deal about extra virgin olive oil? How is it different from other oils? Is it really worth the price tag?
Despite being a common kitchen staple, there's a lot people don't know about extra virgin olive oil. Did you know there are 6 classifications, or types, of olive oil? When it comes to understanding the differences, things get cloudy - people have no idea! Basically, extra virgin is the cream of the crop. It must adhere to the strictest set of rules and regulations set in place by the International Olive Council (IOC) in order to be considered 'extra virgin'. It's the healthiest, most flavorful and yes, most expensive to produce. So how does olive oil gain the coveted title of 'extra virgin'? I'll break down the most important factors here:
1) Fresh Pressed
If you think about it, olive oil is basically fresh pressed fruit juice. Yes, the olive is a fruit! The olives must be healthy, fresh, and still on the tree when harvested. No fallen olives are ever used in the production of extra virgin olive oil. Olives must also be transported to a mill and pressed within 24 hours of harvesting.
2) Acidity Level
The acidity level is one of the main parameters to classify the quality of olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil must have a free acidity (expressed as oleic acid) less than 0.8% - the lowest level of all olive oils. This is tested by a third-party laboratory that measures the oil for its chemical characteristics.
3) No Chemicals or Heat
The oil must be extracted from healthy, fresh olives, purely by mechanical means, without the use of heat or solvents - hence the term "cold-pressed" that you see on bottles at your grocery store.
4) Free of Taste Defects
There are a number of negative sensory defects that can be associated with extra virgin olive oil, and all of these deficiencies are related to poor growing, harvesting, processing and/or storage practices. The most common sensory defects found are: musty, fusty, or rancid. When these defects are present, the oil can no longer be considered extra virgin.
Did you know Queen Creek Olive Mill has two award winning olive oils?
Check out our Silver Award Winning Arizona Extra Virgin Olive Oil and
our Gold Award Winning Balanced Extra Virgin Olive Oil!